Podcast #15

When you are looking to start in your career or switch job, you will often be looking at a multitude of clinics. Through the process of applying and interviewing, you might come across some indicators that don’t seem like much at the time, but are indicative of deeper rooted problems.
Red danger flag on a beach.
KICK ASS VETS will discuss some Red Flags that are indicators of much deeper concerns.
Below are some ‘Red Flags’. Surface indicators that suggest deeper problems:
A dirty and disorganized clinic is not only frustrating and unpleasant to work in day-to-day, but often patient care suffers. Also, a dirty clinic indicates either a lack of staff, burnt out or overworked staff, or lack of pride in the clinic by the staff. This suggests a poor or toxic working environment. A disorganized clinic also suggests that other processes won’t be organized including records, work-flow systems, communication, etc. Lack of organization often coincides with lack of efficiency.
Every clinic will have some level of ‘politics’ and drama, however if this drama is evident before you even start working at the clinic, this is concerning. Signs of this include staff trying to ‘get you on their side’ during your working interview, or staff ‘warning you’ about other staff members. These types of interactions suggest that there is a large amount of tension between staff, and likely either toxic individuals are present, or the work environment is toxic.
Hazmat helmet.
Sometimes there is just one or two toxic individuals that can ruin an entire work environment.
Lack of response to emails, poor communication when organizing interviews or negotiations, the use of scare tactics such as ‘well we have other applicants so you had better tell us soon…’ and poor communication about either medical cases or the working environment while performing your working interview are all huge red flags. Communication will only get worse after you start working at a clinic, and during the interview process clinics are on their ‘best behaviour’. If you cannot get clear answers or have mutually respectful conversations during this process don’t expect to once you are an employee.
A defensive stance from an employer in any conversation regarding medicine or contracts is a red flag as well. Your employer should be able to discuss and defend calmly and respectfully any question or comment you may have. If they can’t, then in the future you will most likely have trouble with communication regarding cases, salary negotiations, etc.
Incomplete, inaccurate or un-detailed records are your first sign that poor medicine is being performed. Also, during your working interview, if you are uncomfortable with the level of medicine, or feel there is any type of unethical or illegal medical practices, RUN AWAY. The medicine won’t get better, unless you are hired into a position where you have authority to evoke change.
Ask about relationships with the specialists, as clinics that don’t ever refer cases are concerning. Ask your potential boss about their cases, and if you have any concerns ask/voice these. Unwillingness to discuss case management or unwillingness to be open to new suggestions is concerning for your ability to practice high quality medicine at that clinic.
Clinics where you walk in and the staff are all unhappy or there is high staff turnover is suggestive of either a toxic work environment, or lack of growth opportunity. During your working interview ask staff how long they have been at the clinic, whether or not they like it, and what they like or dislike.
Revolving Door
Clinics that are a revolving door of staff should be approached with caution.
During your working interview, if you are experiencing a lack of support or guidance, or if the clinic you are applying to isn’t supportive of you doing a working interview, be very cautious. Clinics should be keen to help possible new staff, and keen to evaluate possible new staff. You want to be in a clinic that wants the best person for the job, not just a warm body. Clinics that are just desperate to get anyone hired, and don’t want to put in the effort of support through a working interview or the interview process, are either terribly understaffed or the staff are all burnt-out and don’t care about creating a good working environment.
During your working interview pay attention to when the staff leave. Are they leaving on-time? Or are they staying hours late every day? Ask to see the schedule, and ask where you would fit into this schedule. If the schedule is not made an appropriate amount in advance, or if the clinic cannot tell you how you would fit into the schedule, this is concerning for underlying issues such as lack of organization, or severe staffing issues.
Avoiding toxic environments and clinics that are less than desirable to work for is important, as one bad job can make you want to leave the profession. By looking for these surface indicators, you can fish out the bad clinics and avoid them! Finding a good working environment is imperative for career happiness!
Do you need help picking the best clinic for you? Are you not sure if a clinic is going to be a good fit? KICK ASS Consulting can help you navigate which clinic to pick, out of a sea of choices!
Written by Dr. Ann Herbst BSc, DVM

Published August 1st, 2019

Advocate for yourself, you are the only one that will!

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